Henry Stanley Plummer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Henry Stanley Plummer, MD
Henry Stanley Plummer.jpg
Dr. Henry Plummer
Born (1874-03-03)March 3, 1874
Hamilton, Fillmore County, Minnesota
Died December 31, 1936(1936-12-31) (aged 62)
Rochester, Minnesota
Education Medical degree
Alma mater Northwestern University
Occupation internist and endocrinologist
Known for Mayo Clinic
Title Doctor
Spouse(s) Daisy
Children Robert and Gertrude
Relatives Dr. William A. Plummer (brother)

Henry Stanley Plummer, M.D. ((1874-03-03)March 3, 1874 – December 31, 1936(1936-12-31)) was a prominent internist and endocrinologist who, along with Drs. William Mayo, Charles Mayo, Stinchfield, E. Starr Judd, Christopher Graham, and Donald Balfour founded Mayo Clinic. Dr. Plummer is also immortalized as the driving force behind the Plummer Building, which still stands as a part of the Clinic he helped establish.


Plummer was born in Hamilton, Fillmore County, Minnesota. He earned his medical degree from Chicago's Northwestern University in 1898, and then returned to Racine, Minnesota to assist his father Dr. Albert Plummer in private practice.

The Plummer House.

He became a partner in the Clinic practice in 1901, and Dr. William Mayo would later quip that hiring Dr. Plummer was the best day's work he had ever done.

In 1917 construction began on the Plummer House, the English Tudor mansion where Dr. Plummer and his family lived. The house was designed by Ellerbe & Round, and boasted many innovations that were rare at the time. Daisy Plummer gave the furnished house and property to the Rochester Art Center in 1971. Her wish was that the house and grounds would be used by the people of Rochester and Clinic guest as a Center for the Arts. This remarkable gift was later transferred to the Rochester Park and Recreation Department and is now used as a rental facility for private parties.

Architectural detail representing Dr. Plummer on the Plummer Building.

Not only a talented physician, Dr. Plummer was also a successful scientist and inventor. He developed a cable-carrier system for circulating correspondence within the clinic, directed the early development of Mayo's clinical laboratories, as well as bringing in Louis B. Wilson[1] in 1905 to develop and manage the diagnostic and research labs, and was the first to understand and operate an X-ray machine at the Clinic. Dr. Will Mayo called Plummer "a pioneer in the development of X-ray diagnosis and therapy". Perhaps one of his greatest contributions was the development of a simple, easily retrievable medical record system that became the model for record keeping worldwide.

In the early 1920s, Dr. Plummer worked with Ellerbe & Round to design the building that now bears his name. Located in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, the Plummer Building was well ahead of its time, boasting many amenities that are still in use today including a telephone system, cross-indexed patient records, a power plant, subways, and a pneumatic tube delivery system. Dr. Plummer is considered by many to be the architect of the modern medical practice. His innovative system and building designs, as well as his early understanding of the importance of the diagnostic and research aspects of the clinical practice, allowed for the creation of the integrated group practice and medical specialization.

Plummer died in Rochester, Minnesota. He was known to many as a diversified genius.


Plummer-Vinson syndrome is named after him and Porter Paisley Vinson. Plummer's nail refers to the separation of the nail from the nailbed which occurs in thyrotoxicosis and psoriatic arthritis.

Personal life[edit]

He had a wife, Daisy, and two adopted children, Robert and Gertrude. Henry Plummer's younger brother, Dr. William Albert Plummer, was also a prominent Mayo physician. The two Plummer brothers represented the next generation of medical practitioner, and helped usher in the modern medical age with innovations such as the integrated group practice and specialization.